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Fun Ice Cream Facts

Some cold, hard truths about the treat.

By Sarah Engler
Three ice cream conesChris Court
  • Ice cream as we know it seems to have emerged in 17th-century France. (A first-century Roman emperor is said to have sent runners into the mountains for snow to be flavored with juices. In the 13th century, Marco Polo brought back from China descriptions of a sherbetlike dessert.)
  • The cone didn't appear until 1904, when a Syrian waffle maker at the St. Louis World's Fair began rolling his pastries into horns to help an ice cream vendor who had run out of dishes. (The idea had been patented a year earlier, by an Italian in New York City, but the fair popularized it.)
  • Today the average American eats about 20 quarts of ice cream a year―the world's highest per capita consumption, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
  • Top-selling flavors (surprise!): vanilla, with 33 percent of the market, and chocolate, with 19 percent.
  • It takes 5.8 pounds of whole milk and one pound of cream to make one gallon of ice cream.
  • Farmers in Vermont used to feed leftovers provided by Ben and Jerry's to their hogs. The hogs didn't seem to care for Mint Oreo Cookie.

Whether you’re making your own ice cream or picking it up at the store, you can whip up some tasty warm-weather treats by following these recipes:

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Quick Tip

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The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.